Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Long and the Short of It

Yes, the meeting is on Wednesday. Joey's report card was no great surprise, he has trouble communicating and speaking, he has been having behavior issues. Otherwise he is moving right along.

People associate special education with being stupid. It is an inescapable fact. I have seen and heard my child, individually and as part of the group, referred to as a "vegetable", "idiot", "retard", "parasite", "waste of resources", "budget drain", and even "trash." Why? because people see these kids as a waste of time, resources, and even compassion. They think these are kids who will never make in society, who will always be dependent, who have no future. This is the way our society views people with disabilities, especially cognitive disabilities. Many even se their own family members who may have challenges in this light. The concept of spending a little money now to save a lot of money down the road is a foreign concept, all the more so in our current now-now-now immediate-gratification culture.

It's one thing to see this in the general public, who are, frankly, generally ignorant of special education and special needs. Even families with special needs individuals within them can be generally ignorant (sometimes mind-bogglingly so). To realize that people in the special education system itself are this ignorant is enough to make a parent bang their head against a wall. Seriously.

Here's the long and the short of it: Joey is in first grade. However, he reads on a fourth grade level, and does second grade math. His classmates are still on first grade levels. His teacher is not offering him differentiated work. Naturally, the child is bored to tears. When one is bored to tears, and one is six years old, one tends to act up and act out. then add the autism, and the frustrations that go with it, to this stew, and we are starting to have a serious problem.

What do you do with a child who is both gifted and special needs? What do we do with the kids who are "twice special"?

Our school system is going to have to tackle this problem, and soon. They have a small horde of autistic kids coming up from the preschool who are much like Joey- "high functioning" and even gifted, but not able to go into a regular classroom independently.

The most obvious answer to this would be to have a para in the inclusion room who specialized in the child or children there. The special ed teacher in our system is a floater, so that wouldn't be enough. However, the school doesn't like the idea, because hey, it costs money.

So what exactly do I expect from this meeting? I have one teacher who knows Joey very well, and does her best to support him. I have one teacher who is still learning what Joey can and cannot do, but seems to be trying very hard to meet his needs and challenge him. Then I have a the teacher who hadn't noticed, nine weeks into the school year, that Joey was well beyond first-grade level vocabulary and spelling. What do I really hope they will do? How do we find and create an appropriate placement for my son?


kristi said...

I am so right there with you but my son struggles with learning, he can't read yet...but he is making progress. Check out my blog to see what is going on now with his school. It is so very upsetting.

little.birdy said...

Wow. Poor Joey. No wonder he's acting out. At least two of the three teachers seem to have a handle on the situation. I hope the third teacher gets with the program and realizes that kids are all different, no matter what the state tries to tell them, and some will have more pronounced strengths and weaknesses than others.

Anonymous said...

Poor Joey, no wonder he's acting up.
I had a similar experience in secondary school. I'm deafblind and have PDD-NOS, but my learning level is slightly above average. In the Dutch special education system, the level doesn't go any higher than average. Because of my disabilities I needed to be in special education so was basically learning below my level.
However I was fortunate enough to have teachers who saw this and it was agreed I would skip a year, which certainly helped. but I definitely fdidn't find the first year very interesting.
I hope these issues are resolved and Joey can start learning stuff at his level.

Suzanne said...

How frustrating for you and joey. For it to boil down to, we don't have the $$$ to serve both ends of his needs is so USA public school. argh. Reminds me of my brother, who is now quite successful despite not thriving in our schools. Good luck.